In a previous post we looked at possible causes for the decline of true fellowship in the church, like busyness. According to Acts 2:42, the early church devoted themselves to fellowship. To truly be there for one another took time. They were available to one another. They were committed to the process.
Time and availability, however, tend to be a rare commodity for many in today’s world geared toward instant access and fast service. It takes time, however, to get to know people. And, it isn’t always convenient to extend comfort and encouragement when people most need it.
How can we help busy people take time for true fellowship?
- Perhaps we need to re-educate people about the purpose of coming together. It isn’t just about coming to worship God. The church is also about people who build each other up. Fellowship isn’t going to happen when you rush in and out without stopping to engage in conversations. Church leaders, be careful meetings are not so tightly scheduled that people have no time to interact in-between. If the sermon is always going overtime, it will tend to make people all the more eager to rush out at the end. If your service gets over at noon, people will want to go eat lunch. If you can’t make the time earlier, perhaps you can tack a meal on at the end … at least sometimes. This of course, might only pull in a limited number of people but it is something to consider.
- We might be tempted to all the more encourage the use of social media because we’re busy. It only takes a few seconds to send a tweet. You can write on your Facebook wall and all your friends will get it. — a real time saver, right? Perhaps, but a high tech world also tends to lead to a low touch world. Encourage people to use these mediums but to guard against them becoming a substitute for face-to-face relationships simply because it is more convenient. Ministry leaders can be an example in this. How easy it is in these days to abandon face-to-face recruitment efforts in lieu of a quick e-mail or software programs geared to streamlining contacts. Let’s use technology but not be used by it.
- Offer a variety of options for people getting together that provide a variety of commitment levels to meet people where they are. Someone following MinTools.com on Facebook suggested asking people to our homes for dessert, “not too long to keep them from things,” as opposed to inviting them for a full meal where they would feel guilty to simply eat and run. This is a good option for busy people whereas others might be able to take time for a meal. Perhaps you could start by inviting them for a meal and if they hesitate because they are too busy, offer the dessert option. This example could possibly be applied to other ways we might try to get people to meet together.
- Do things that truly interest people and meet needs and they will be more prone to make the time. People, as busy as they are, tend to make time for what they believe is important.
- Teach on time management and lining up our priorities with God’s.
- Minimize travel time for small groups and other get-togethers by grouping according to locale.
- Build more opportunities for true fellowship into already existing ministry venues. What people don’t need is another program to attend.
- Pastors and ministry leaders must participate in fellowship with the Body as well, leading the way, if they expect others to follow suit. It is so easy for pastors and ministry leaders to engage in fellowship with fellow staff and rarely with fellow church members. People need to see both in leadership.